Frank Robinson, Vince Coleman, Benito Santiago, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Scott Rolen, Tony Kubek, Carlton Fisk, Mark McGwire, Sandy Alomar Jr., Tim Salmon, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garicaparra, Evan Longoria, Mike Trout. Those are a few players who have unanimously won the Rookie of the Year award. Trout joined that illustrious group Monday when he became the youngest winner of the AL award and only the 8th in the history of the AL to win unanimously.
Trout, however, has a chance to do something (else) that no one has ever done before. If Trout also brings home the AL MVP award on Thursday, and we’ve argued here on Off The Bench that he should, he will be the first player in major league history to win the Rookie of the Year unanimously and the MVP award in the same season.
Fred Lynn in 1975 and Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 are the only two players so far to win both awards in the same season, but Lynn’s teammate Jim Rice got one ROY vote in ’75 and CC Sabathia took one from Ichiro in 2001.
It would be fitting if Trout, who in 2012 posted one of the most incredible seasons ever, for anyone, let alone a rookie, became the first to accomplish the feat.
Belive it or not, what follows is something I turned in as a writing sample for a post-graduation job I’ve aplied for:
“For weeks now, the Major League Baseball community has been locked in a heated debate over who the most deserving candidate is for one of the sport’s most prestigious awards, the American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Conventional wisdom dictates that award be given to Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers third basemen who, this season, became the first player since 1967 to lead his league in Batting Average, Home Runs, and Runs Batted In (RBIs), a feat know as the Triple Crown. Though historically not every Triple Crown winner has won the MVP, it seems to defy logic that a player who lead the league in hits-per-at bats, creating runs single handedly (home runs), and driving teammates in to score (RBIs), would be anything but the most valuable. There is, however, another candidate who was, if possible, even more impressive than Cabrera this year.
Mike Trout is a rookie centerfielder for the Las Angeles Angels and he just finished one of the most impressive and unprecedented seasons in the long and prestigious history the game. Trout became the first player in Major League history to hit at least 30 home runs, score at least 125 runs, and steal at least 45 bases in a single season. He was also the first player ever to bat at least .320 with 30 homers and 45 steals. That he did this in his first season in the pros is all the more impressive. That he did this despite missing the first month of the season is absolutely remarkable.
Trout’s incredible statistical accomplishments only begin to tell the story of why he should be this season’s MVP, thereby becoming only the third player in Major League history to win both the MVP and the Rookie of the Year award in the same season. Imagine the high level of play it takes to amass his numbers. Both Trout and Cabrera spent the season getting hits consistently, in Trout’s case most often against pitcher’s he’d never before faced, and both hit for power, but Trout also stole almost 50 bases. This feat requires blazing speed and base running acumen, two skills Cabrera doesn’t posses and two skills that often prove the difference between winning and losing on any given day.
While Cabrera is known throughout baseball as a well below average defensive player, a liability to his team in the field who is only tolerated because of his offensive prowess, Trout is one of the games premiere defenders at one of its elite positions. Centerfielders are required to cover the most ground of any defensive player and Trout does it effortlessly. Throughout the season, fans, teammates and rival scouts marveled at both Trout’s consistently high level defensive play and the spectacular catches he made almost nightly.
Not only does Trout pass the eye test with flying colors, advanced baseball statistics also confirm his value. One statistic above all is nearly irrefutable in its endorsement of Trout over Cabrera. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a measure of how many wins a given player is worth to his team above a generic, slightly below average, Major Leaguer. Cabrera’s WAR was an impressive 6.9. Trout’s was a nearly unheard of 10.7.
Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown 2012 season is worth all the praise it has received since the season came to a close last week. Mike Trout’s first year in the game, however, will go down as one of the greatest seasons of all time. He is this year’s Most Valuable Player.”